The Hungry Swimmer: Vegetarian Meal Ideas

Whether you are plant-based or vegetarian, it can be difficult to find exciting meal ideas that don’t involve tofu (no shade to the tofu-lovers out there). All tofu jokes aside, vegetarian meals typically get a bad rap for being boring and lacking protein. Do I agree with this sentiment? Not necessarily. Do I have some delicious, protein-packed vegetarian meal ideas to debunk this myth? Absolutely!

Avocado, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich


  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Everything bagel seasoning (optional)

Who doesn’t love a filling breakfast sandwich after a grueling morning workout? Wash it down with some chocolate milk and you got yourself the breakfast of champions!

Although we all love and adore the classic BEC (for all you non-New Yorkers out there, it stands for bacon, egg and cheese), I veggified it and swapped out the bacon for avocado. With this swap, you’re getting more heart healthy fats and less grease. Since runny eggs on avocado toast is one of my favorite combinations, I tried sandwiching the two open-faced toasts between a layer of melted cheese and it’s glorious!

First, start by cooking your eggs. I fried mine in a pan with light cooking spray until the yolks were runny. As you are frying those up, sprinkle the cheese on both slices of bread and toast in a toaster oven for about 1:00 until the cheese has melted. If you don’t have a toaster oven, just place the cheese topped bread on a warm skillet, covered, after cooking your eggs. Set the cooked eggs aside on a plate and wait until the cheese has melted on your toast. Once the cheese finally melts, cut your avocado and divide the half between the two slices of bread, as if you were making avocado toast. Mash the avocado with a fork on top of the melted cheese and add your seasoning. Sprinkling the everything bagel seasoning, salt and pepper onto the avocado will ensure that your seasoning sticks to your food. This step is crucial! Next, layer the fried eggs on top of the mashed avocado and sandwich together. WARNING: beware of the ultimate yolk porn.

Dijon Greek Pasta Salad


  • *serves 3-4*
  • 1 box pasta (I used chickpea pasta)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes⠀
  • 1 cucumber, diced⠀
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced⠀
  • 1 cup feta cheese


  • 1/4 c olive oil ⠀
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar⠀
  • Juice of 1 lemon⠀
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard⠀
  • Salt and pepper to taste⠀
  • 1 tsp dried basil⠀
  • 1 tsp oregano⠀
  • 1 tsp garlic powder⠀
  • 1 tsp onion powder⠀

Nothing screams summer like a refreshing pasta salad. I love making a big batch of this and having it for lunch throughout the week. It’s super quick and easy and most importantly, bursting with flavor. Since this is a vegetarian meal, I like to include protein rich ingredients where I can. Instead of regular white flour pasta, I used chickpea pasta for added protein and fiber. In this recipe, the feta cheese also adds a nice source of protein, about 21 g per 1 cup.

First, cook your pasta. As you’re waiting for the water to boil, begin to chop up the onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper. Set the chopped add-ins aside and add your pasta to the boiling water. While the pasta cooks (if you are using chickpea pasta, this should take 10-15 minutes), you can start to assemble the ingredients for your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. If you don’t have a whisk, a fork works just as well! Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, dried basil, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder and continue to whisk. Once your pasta has cooked, drain and place in a separate bowl. Let the pasta cool for 5 minutes or so and transfer it to a larger bowl. Carefully fold in the previously chopped onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and feta. Slowly pour in the dressing and continue to fold this in. I recommend using a baking spatula or a spoon. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and keep in the fridge overnight to cool. Now it’s ready to eat!

Rainbow Nourish Bowl


  • Spinach
  • 1 cup roasted chickpeas
  • Bell pepper
  • Roasted zucchini
  • Roasted asparagus
  • ½ avocado
  • Everything bagel seasoning (optional)


  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

The best way to end a summer day is with a colorful, nourishing meal. Not only is this recipe really light and fresh, but assembling it is the best part! Since this is a plant-based meal, I wasn’t as strict with portions. I believe that you should listen to your body and eat enough to leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. I also wanted to emphasize that just because this is a salad bowl doesn’t mean it lacks protein. The protein players here are the chickpeas and tahini – 1 cup of chickpeas has 14g and 2 tbsp of tahini has 8g. So, get yourself a big bowl and let’s get started!

If you’re not too keen on vegetables, this meal is a great way to expand your palette and get creative. Yes, I will be the first to admit that vegetables can be quite boring, however, I found that roasting them adds a whole new dimension of flavor! Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the zucchini and asparagus and measure out the chickpeas. Place them all on the sheet and top with a light drizzle of olive oil. You can also season them with your favorite spices. My favorites are garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and some dill. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, you can start to prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini and olive oil. Once the texture is smooth, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the smoked paprika. Mix together until the flavors are fully combined. Set the dressing aside and get out a cutting board. Slice up the bell pepper and cut the avocado. When the vegetables are done roasting, let them cool for a few minutes before assembling your bowl. First, fill the bowl with your greens – I used spinach but you can also use kale or mixed greens. Next, add in the asparagus, zucchini, bell pepper and chickpeas – in no particular order. Top with avocado, a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning and a drizzle of the tahini dressing. Time to eat!

Check out my page for more recipe inspiration and be sure to share your student athl-eats with me @whatzoeeeats.

About Zoe Gregorace

Zoe Gregorace is currently studying Nutrition Policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and recently graduated from Tufts University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and was a proud member of the Tufts Swimming and Diving team (Go Jumbos!). During her 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, she developed a passion for sports nutrition. She enjoys writing on the topic of nutrition, health and wellness and posts her meal creations on her Instagram page @whatzoeeeats. As a former college swimmer, she strives to share recipes and nutrition tips to promote balanced eating and optimize sports performance.

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